How I Learned to Drive

Li’l Bit’s mother appears intermittently in the play and is acted by the Female Greek Chorus. She portrays a distrusting attitude towards men, seemingly based on her bad relationship with Li’l Bit’s father (who is entirely absent from the play). Like her own mother, Li’l Bit’s grandmother, she ultimately believes that what happens to women is their own responsibility. This plays out in the darkly comic interjections by Li’l Bit’s mother on the topic of female decorum, in which she memorably instructs Li’l Bit to avoid any alcoholic drinks with “sugar, or anything with an umbrella” and to “drink, instead, like a man.” As a character, then, Li’l Bit’s mother consistently reinforces the gender imbalances of the status quo. This has its most grave consequence when, in one of the play’s last scenes (which is actually one of the earliest chronologically in Li’l Bit’s life), she approves Li’l Bit’s request to spend more time with Uncle Peck despite being suspicious of his motives towards her daughter—“if anything happens,” she tells Li’l Bit, “I hold you responsible.”

Li’l Bit’s Mother Quotes in How I Learned to Drive

The How I Learned to Drive quotes below are all either spoken by Li’l Bit’s Mother or refer to Li’l Bit’s Mother . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theater Communications Group edition of How I Learned to Drive published in 2018.
How I Learned to Drive Quotes

FEMALE GREEK CHORUS. (As mother). And of course, we were so excited to have a baby girl that when the nurse brought you in and said, “It’s a girl! It’s a baby girl!” I just had to see for myself. So we whipped your diapers down and parted your chubby little legs — and right between your legs there was—(Peck has come over during the above and chimes along:)
PECK. GREEK CHORUS.
Just a little bit. Just a little bit.

FEMALE GREEK CHORUS. (As mother). And when you were born, you were so tiny that you fit in Uncle Peck’s outstretched hand. (Peck stretches his hand out.)

Related Characters: Uncle Peck (speaker), Female Greek Chorus (speaker), Li’l Bit’s Mother (speaker), Li’l Bit
Page Number: 12-13
Explanation and Analysis:
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FEMALE GREEK CHORUS. (As Mother.) I am not letting an eleven-year-old girl spend seven hours alone in the car with a man... I don’t like the way your uncle looks at you.

LI’L BIT. For god’s sake, mother! Just because you’ve gone through a bad time with my father — you think every man is evil!

FEMALE GREEK CHORUS. (As Mother.) Oh no, Li’l Bit not all men... We... we just haven’t been very lucky with the men in our family.

LI’L BIT. Just because you lost your husband — I still deserve a chance at having a father! Someone! A man who will look out for me! Don’t I get a chance?

FEMALE GREEK CHORUS. (As Mother.) I will feel terrible if something happens.

LI’L BIT. Mother! It’s in your head! Nothing will happen! I can take care of myself. And I can certainly handle Uncle Peck.

FEMALE GREEK CHORUS. (As Mother.) All right. But I’m warning you — if anything happens, I hold you responsible.

Related Characters: Li’l Bit (speaker), Female Greek Chorus (speaker), Li’l Bit’s Mother (speaker), Uncle Peck
Related Symbols: Driving/Cars
Page Number: 55-56
Explanation and Analysis:
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Li’l Bit’s Mother Character Timeline in How I Learned to Drive

The timeline below shows where the character Li’l Bit’s Mother appears in How I Learned to Drive. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
How I Learned to Drive
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...present, Li’l Bit explains how members of her family are nicknamed for their genitalia. Her mother was called “the titless wonder” and her cousin was branded “B.B.,” which the play’s three... (full context)
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Here, the female chorus interjects as Li’l Bit’s mother to give “A Mother’s Guide to Social Drinking.” It instructs that a lady must never... (full context)
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...the form of a conversation between the fourteen-years-old Li’l Bit, the female chorus playing her mother, and the teenage chorus playing her grandmother. (full context)
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The female chorus/Li’l Bit’s mother states that men only want one thing, “and once they have it they lose all... (full context)
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The female chorus/mother and the teenage chorus/grandmother debate the existence of orgasms, with the latter insisting she’s never... (full context)
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...Women: Part II.” This time, Li’l Bit is fifteen years old. She tentatively asks her grandmother and mother, played by the same choruses as before, what it’s like to have sex.... (full context)
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The two choruses argue, with the mother wanting to give Li’l Bit the information that her own mother failed to do. The... (full context)
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The argument intensifies, revealing that female chorus/mother resents the teenage chorus/grandmother for not telling her more about sex. If she had known... (full context)
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...talk about whatever is “bothering” Peck—as long as he stays sober. She doesn’t want her mother or Aunt Mary to know. It has to be in public, she says: “You’ve got... (full context)
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...in “reverse gear” to the summer of 1962. Li’l Bit is trying to convince her mother (played by the female chorus) to let her spend more time with Peck—she says that... (full context)
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Li’l Bit tries to reassure the female chorus/mother that “nothing will happen!” She says that just because her mother lost her husband doesn’t... (full context)